Autumn leaves are falling, stores are selling tons of candy, and costume shops are enjoying steady business. Yes, it’s that time again! This Halloween, I expect to see a lot of little ones dressed as Elsa or Darth Vader, and adults dressed as orange-skinned Donald Trump and pant suit clad Hillary Clinton. While neither outfit can be deemed original, a review of Halloween trends of years gone by reveals popular culture and politics always dominate Halloween attire.
In the 1950s, cultural icons usurped the traditional for the first time, thanks to that new wonder of technology, the television. Vampire, witch, and monster Halloween costumes yielded to television characters like Zorro, Davy Crockett, and Dennis the Menace. The 1960s made dressing up for Halloween easier than ever as kids trick or treated in cheap plastic masks and suits sold in cellophane covered boxes in Five and Dimes across the country. The burst of pop culture in the 1970s unleashed a parade of Star Wars figures; now Chewbacca and his cohorts annually wander the streets. In the 1980s, a new kind of swashbuckling trick or treater, Indiana Jones, hit the pavement along with a few Michael Jacksons, Hulk Hogans and Elviras. The 1990s were ruled by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Power Rangers, and Barney, every parent’s purple nightmare. Austin Powers was all the rage in 2000, and who can forget Harry Potter or Sponge Bob? Clearly, Halloween choices mirror cultural trends, and cultural trends predict popularity.
Can cultural trends predict presidential elections? Party City unsurprisingly reports election themed costumes are most popular with adults this year; HalloweenCostumes.com adds that Donald Trump costumes are outselling Clinton costumes by 30%. Is that an accurate assessment of Trump’s popularity or how laughable he? Is it an illustration of the public’s disdain for Clinton or how drab she is?
Time will tell.